Ohio (17-25, 14-10 Mid-American Conference) split a doubleheader with Ball State (30-16, 17-7 MAC) on Saturday in what were two important games. After losing two of three against Ball State, the team will need to perform well at Western Michigan next weekend if it wants a shot at the MAC tournament.
“(The team is) disappointed, obviously frustrated,“ coach Craig Moore said. "I thought we had a really good opportunity after game one today to come out and get the series, unfortunately, it just didn’t go our way.”
Ohio’s day was shadowed by a heartbreaking loss in game two after it had chances to win. Despite the loss, the Bobcats put forth a stellar showing in game one, which was followed by senior recognition in between games. Here’s how the two games went down.
The Bobcats picked up a big win in game one of the doubleheader, winning 5-3 following a stellar start from Jacob Tate.
This was Tate’s first start of the year after previously being seen as a primary option out of the bullpen. However, the lefty is not unfamiliar with starting after making 10 starts for Ohio last year.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll just keep going out there with the same mindset every time that I pitch,” Tate said.
The pitching for Ohio was great with Tate pitching the first 6 1/3 innings before the game was closed out with 2 2/3 innings from Tyler Peck out of the bullpen. Tate allowed only three earned runs while collecting four strikeouts before Peck came in to record the first save of his career.
“That’s what we needed out of (Tate) today, it was a big game for us,” Moore said.
The pitching was backed up by a two-hit performance from Alec Patino that included a home run and two RBIs. Mason Minzey, who hits directly after Patino in the lineup, was also able to record two hits and an RBI.
Ohio fell in game two by a final score of 7-6, despite having a three-run lead early in the game.
Hudson Boncal made his first start of the year during game two and settled in decently after giving up a run in the first inning.
“(Boncal), I thought did well at times, and then there was that last inning where he walked those first two guys. It’s baseball, walks come back to hurt you and both those walks ended up scoring,” Moore said. “Overall, he competed and he gave us an opportunity to win the game and win the game late.”
Boncal ended up pitching four innings, allowing three earned runs before being relieved by Luke Olson in the fifth. Olson entered with the bases loaded and no outs and was almost able to escape the inning unscathed. Back-to-back two-out bloop singles from Ball State brought three runners in to score which tied the game.
In the bottom half of the inning, Ohio was able to jump back on top with a lead-off home run from AJ Rausch. Ohio would keep its lead until the seventh, which went poorly for Olson and Ohio.
With a lead-off single, followed by a one-out double from Ball State’s star player Ryan Peltier, the Cardinals had runners on second and third with one out. Andrew Wilhite came to the plate and delivered the biggest at-bat of the game. Wilhite hit a single through the right side that scored two runs and gave the Cardinals the late lead. They added one more in the inning, making it a three-run seventh.
Zach Weber closed out the game for Ohio with two shutout innings, but Ohio could not regain the lead late. Billy Adams was able to pick up a big two-out RBI single in the ninth, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Rausch. After a pitching change, Rausch sent a ball deep into the outfield that was barely kept in the park, being caught on the warning track to end the game. Only a few more feet would have made it a two-run walk-off home run.
The end of game two on Saturday marked the last home game for Ohio’s graduating seniors. One senior in particular, Trevor Lukkes, is particularly remorseful after spending six years with the team.
“It’s definitely emotional, (Bob Wren) has been such a special place in my life over the last six years. I’m definitely thankful for the opportunities that I've gotten from the coaching staff and what they’ve given me and also my teammates,” Lukkes said. “I’d do anything for any of them, and I'm gonna be friends with them for life… it’s definitely been an honor to put this jersey on.”